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By Barbara Snitzer of Le Movie Snob

DIANA VREELAND: THE EYE HAS TO TRAVEL, while not as exacting and elegant as its subject, is still a worthwhile documentary that will hopefully ensure Ms Vreeland’s accomplishments are remembered well into the twenty-first century and beyond any name recognition for Anna Wintour.

Diana Vreeland was not the first woman to hold the position of fashion editor of a major magazine, but she was, as the photographer Richard Avedon said in her obituary “She was and remains the only genius fashion editor.”

Her relentless pursuit of all things beautiful I believe was motivated by her self-admitted lack of physical beauty. Beauty was her religion, and she wanted to share her knowledge and joy of discovery with everyone. This is why her pictorials were not merely a showcase for designers’ clothes; equally important were the locations and the non-traditional models she promoted. The film’s best moment is an animated collage of her pictorials that communicate her philosophy more directly than even her own words.

She left Harper’s Bazaar to become the editor-in-chief of American Vogue, a position currently held by Anna Wintour.

Their attitudes towards fashion could not be more different. While the film doesn’t illustrate a comparison between the two, it does effectively convey Vreeland’s passion and wit via her many talk show appearances. Those unfamiliar with Ms Vreeland will certainly note the absence of an equivalent contemporary personality.

Sadly, Ms Wintour not only lacks Vreeland’s passion, but she has corrupted her legacy. Vreeland founded the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum in New York so that haute couture garments would not gather dust in socialites’ storage and be able to be appreciated by as many people as possible. Today, Wintour plans the opening night gala and seems more preoccupied with being gatekeeper than the exhibition itself.

The film was directed by Vreeland’s granddaughter-in-law, Lisa Immordino-Vreeland.

They never met. Unfortunately, her familial position doesn’t make up for the flaws in the film. The chronology is unclear, awful imagined conversations between Vreeland and her biographer George Plimpton dominate the first half, and the films clips of her seem pulled from You Tube without regard for context.

Still, it is important that Diana Vreeland not be forgotten, and fortunately, this film ensures that won’t happen soon.

3.5 stars

The film is playing now at the Plaza Frontenac Cinema.


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